The American University in Cairo has just banned niqab on campus for both; students and lecturers. This Tuesday, an unofficial e-mail was sent from a supervisor in the language department in the AUC to her lecturers that starting the 21st of December, niqab won’t be allowed on campus.
And unlike what everyone thinks that an official e-mail was sent to the students/ lecturers informing them about the decision, niqabi AUCians knew the news from the gates with no official notice from the university. And with no reasons mentioned.
However, the reason is thought to be security purposes. As there was no clear cut incident that took place on campus with a niqabi that could’ve triggered such a decision.
Ever since the e-mail was sent, it received harsh criticism from all sides; whether within the AUC body or outside of it.
Here are some of the comments:
No sooner was the e-mail sent than the Student Union of the AUC posted their reply concerning the issue on their facebook page that supports the right of every student in accessing campus regardless on their beliefs or attire.
The students’ role didn’t stop here, they started sending e-mails to the AUC president, the senate and dean of students. Their e-mails turned out to be effective as they got a reply from the university asking them for a meeting to discuss the issue.
“I felt depressed & humiliated when I heard about it, as I realized that I was deceived by false mottos. It is supposed that our liberty & our beliefs should be respected whatever attire we have.” said one of the niqabis among the AUC body.
And the other said, “The decision was made before they sent us the e-mail. I was entering from the gate like everyday until the security told me that by the 21st I won’t be able to enter with my niqab. And that I better prepare yourself. I’m having my finals now, and believe me when I tell you that I haven’t studied a word for the past week, thinking about my identity, my education and my life.”
This isn’t the first time a university in Egypt bans niqab on campus, Cairo University took a similar decision in 2015 with a little difference which is applying the ban on faculty staff members and some of the nurses in the university’s hospital only. So that students could identify the lecturer in front of them, and for security reasons, the decision was later approved by the administrative judiciary in January 2016.
Finally, supporting The Student Union’s opinion, threatening a person’s education, career and family responsibilities based on their attire is not okay. If the reason is security purposes, then such an issue could’ve been resolved if on every gate there’s a little room with a female security inside to approve of the student/ lecturer’s identity, instead of destroying their life by forcing them to either take off a part of their identity and beliefs on the gates or forcing them to quit university.
I hope that the AUC administration reaches a solution that satisfies both sides as fast as they can before the next semester starts, definitely there’s a way to protect the campus without having to offend people’s beliefs.
Note: I’d like to thank the strong niqabi AUCians who helped me with this article.